How to Cut & Separate Peony Roots
Peonies are any plants in the Paeonia genus and are generally hardy perennials with a high tolerance for cold. They’re known for their spectacular blooms in early summer, but they must be transplanted carefully. You’ll usually propagate peonies by cutting the roots of a mature plant into sections and planting them in separate locations. This will allow them to bloom well the following year.
- Moderately Challenging
Things You’ll Need
- Mature peony plant
- Sharp knife
- Garden trowel
- Obtain a mature peony. This will ensure that your sections have the well-developed root systems they’ll need to survive the shock of transplantation.
- Take cuttings of peony roots in the fall after they enter their dormant state. Peonies will naturally die back in the fall in preparation for winter. The dormant state gives them a much better chance of being transplanted successfully.
- Choose the new site. You should plant peonies in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zones 3 through 8, depending on the specific variety. They generally need a minimum of six hours in direct sunlight each day to produce their best blooms. The exception to this rule occurs when the peonies are in the southern limit of their climate range. In this case, they may benefit from an hour or two of afternoon shade.
- Water the peonies thoroughly the night before you transplant them. The soil should be well-soaked in the morning when you divide the mature plant.
- Dig well away from the mature plant with a garden trowel. This will ensure that you retain as much of the peonies’ extensive root system as possible. Cut off the leaves and remove the entire plant from the soil. Wash the root ball of the peony to get most of the soil off and cut the plant into divisions with a sharp knife. Ensure that each division has at least five eyes.
- Plant the peony cuttings in the new locations so that the eyes have less than 2 inches of soil on top of them. Keep the soil evenly moist without allowing water to accumulate. You may need to apply fertilizer in the spring, especially if the soil is sandy.